Atkins Low-Carb Diet Should Be Treated Like Low-Fat

Filed under: Atkins Diet,Interviews — @ March 7, 2007

After the release of this JAMA study on Tuesday that is making tons of positive headlines for livin’ la vida low-carb, you would think those who support low-fat diets were just told the government was no longer going to actively recommend that way of eating as the publicly-endorsed nutritional approach for getting healthy. Of course, you know that wouldn’t be such a bad idea if it happened. ;)

I was privileged to be invited to join a teleconference debate last night sponsored by, a new web site dedicated to helping people take action to manage their health care, conditions and healthy living goals by bringing together a blend of the best health information, tools, communities and services all in one place. It’s a free site that is worthy of your attention if you are like me and care about the subject of health.

The debate itself was between Dr. Michael Dansinger, MD who authored this JAMA study comparing various popular diets in 2005 and Dr. James Hill, PhD. from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). Neither one of these men are what I would call enthusiastic supporters of livin’ la vida low-carb, but Dr. Dansinger is at least respectful of the diet. Dr. Hill, on the other hand, has his doubts about the Atkins diet beyond short-term weight loss.

Jason Rosenberg, who hosted the call, asked me to invite people to the call. So, I e-mailed a handful of low-carb supporters across the various fields of academia, research, advocacy, and blogging and came up with people who I thought could join me and the other low-fat diet bloggers and advocates as we hash out the the details of this study.

But when I called just minutes before the teleconference began at 7:30pm, imagine my surprise when every single one of the people participating in the call was in some way connected to the low-carb community. What?! Where were the low-fat diet bloggers and supporters? Were they simply unwilling to engage in a little spirited debate surrounding these newfound facts about the Atkins diet? Surely you jest?!

Nope! It was true. Not one single person beside Dr. Hill was there to defend low-fat, despite the fact that Jason invited them just like he did me. In a way I felt bad for Dr. Hill because I didn’t want him to think all of us low-carbers were ganging up on him like a bunch of blood-thirsty savage wolves seeking to devour some freshly-caught prey. I’m sure that may be how he felt once we all started asking our questions and making our comments.

One interesting statement made by Dr. Hill that quite frankly floored me was when he said low-carb diets are as equally ineffective after a year just as low-fat diets are. Did you catch that apparent slip of the tongue? He just said low-fat diets are INEFFECTIVE after a year. If that’s true, Dr. Hill, then why do we keep having what you admit is a FAILED message hammered down our throats year in and year out? Isn’t the low-fat, low-calorie diet what your National Weight Control Registry recommends as the long-term way to lose weight?

Taking his thesis that low-carb is equal to low-fat in bringing about weight loss and improved health (or not) a little further, I asked a follow-up question for Dr. Hill a few minutes later asking if the Atkins diet works just as well as the low-fat diets, then why aren’t government and health entities recommending both alongside each other? Dr. Hill said that was an important question to ask, but never really said if he believed it could, should, or would ever happen. There’s a reason he ducked at that question.


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